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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bacon Wrapped BBQ Shrimp - Celebrating Charcoal Grillin and Summertime!

So everyone loves some a good grilled meal, but this one is quick, easy, and super tasty! But before I begin, I have to start a short rant--can anyone please tell me why you think a gas grill is better than charcoal. If you're grilling on a gas grill, why not just cook inside? You miss out on the nice, smokey charcoal flavor and literally 3 minutes, you can get sooo much more out of your meal. I've heard the argument "a gas grill is just so much easier," but seriously, people. I had never started a grill myself until 3 days ago and the first time I tried, it took me 3 minutes at the very most. All you do is pile your charcoal, pour on the lighter fluid, and ignite...easy as pie! Just let the coals turn mostly gray and let the flame calm down and you're ready to grill. So tell me your thoughts on the gas vs. charcoal summer battle. I'm curious.

So here's my recipe for bacon-wrapped bbq shrimp. It was adapted from a recipe by Sunny Anderson of the Food Network show Cooking for Real. The difference is that I did a homemade BBQ sauce that was totally different from what she had and, of course, the fact that I grilled mine on the charcoal grill as opposed to indoors.

hickory flavored bacon
extra jumbo shrimp
bamboo skewers (soaked in water for a couple hours to avoid burning and sticking)
homemade BBQ sauce

Remove shell from shrimp and devein. No need to salt or flavor in any way; the bacon and bbq covers that. Puncture the shrimp through the thicker end with the pointed end of a skewer and slide skewer through while straightening the natural bend of the shrimp. Once on the skewer, the shrimp should be straight. Place two shrimp to each skewer and wrap each one in half a slice of bacon. Slather with bbq and place on a hot grill over punctured foil to allow heat through. Let cook about 10 minutes on one side or until bacon is crispy (the shrimp will not be rubbery at this point, despite what you might think). Slather both sides with more BBQ and let cook 10 more minutes or until bacon is crispy on other side. ENJOY!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Funnel cakes!! Revised

I LOVE summer! Sometimes it might get a little too hot and, yes, the typical summer water restriction can be a pain (not this year--we've been getting a ton of rain, for once), but it's all worth the sacrifice to enjoy making memories and having a great time on a nice, sunny day. One thing I love about summer, besides cookouts and having more free time to cook for friends and family, is funnel cakes! A few years ago, I found a recipe and tried my hand at making them. They're incredibly easy and inexpensive and make for a great get-together treat. Kids and adults alike fall in love with them.

I used to use a recipe ( and it was really good, but I felt like it was just a bit short on flavor, so I've made a few small, but very important changes. The key to getting the great taste in the recipe is the brown sugar and the vanilla. Most recipes use white sugar, but you'll be amazed at how great the flavor difference is with brown sugar.  I have tweaked the amount of brown sugar in the original recipe in addition to adding in some vanilla extract, among other things.  This recipe make a nice thick and fluffy funnel cake.

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 c milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 -1/4 all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1- 1/2 tsp baking powder
Hint: this recipe is also great with a dash of cinnamon, but it's definitely amazing without it, too)

vegetable or canola oil for frying
toppings (sliced strawberries or any other berries with a little sugar - let sit a few minutes to produce juice)
powdered sugar (confectioner's sugar) for dusting

Heat oil in a deep fryer or an electric skillet to 375 (have it ready just as you finish batter, don't let it sit hot or it'll burn). Mix flour, salt, and baking powder thoroughly in a bowl and set aside. Beat eggs lightly in a large bowl. Mix in milk, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until smooth. Slowly beat in flour mixture until batter is smooth. It should not be too soupy. You want it to be a little thick.

Special equipment:
deep fryer or electric skillet

Funnel in about 1/2 cup batter and use your finger to stop the bottom of the funnel as you pour. Once you have poured in batter, scribble batter and make a swirl design to make shape of funnel cake. Let fry until golden brown and turn and let fry until golden brown on other side. Grab with tongs and hold over oil to let excess oil drip into fryer. Place onto plate lined with napkin to drain excess oil. Transfer to clean plate and sift powdered sugar over cakes, then top with desired fruit toppings. You can also mix powdered sugar with cinnamon before sifting and eat with or without fruit.

You will LOVE this recipe! Tell me what you think once you try it. It tastes and smells just like the county fair and you will love the smell almost as much as the flavor. ENJOY!

*Source of photo -